Say Long Island and visions of sandy beaches, large houses and busy boardwalks come to mind. But this island is more than just a vacation hotspot; it is also a growing sports destination.
Situated next to New York City, Long Island stretches northeast into the Atlantic Ocean for 118 miles, making it the longest and largest island in the country. For years, it has mostly been associated with the Hamptons, as well as its beautiful Gold Coast and miles of beaches. And while it is a popular place for families, young couples and celebrities to go on vacation, Long Island is also attractive to athletes.
“A lot of people are unaware that Long Island is a sports destination,” says Jennifer Rothman, sales manager at the Long Island CVB and Sports Commission. But that mindset is changing, as more and more sports organizers put Long Island on their radar.
And why shouldn’t they? Long Island has a strong portfolio of successful sports events, including the ECAC Swimming & Diving Championships, NCAA Men’s Lacrosse quarterfinals and semifinals and Big East Swimming & Diving, plus dozens of golf tournaments and distance races. It hosted the Divas Half Marathon for the third straight year in October and has been the site of seven USGA U.S. Open Golf Championships.
Annually, Long Island hosts the Belmont Stakes, the last leg of the Triple Crown; the Mercedes Benz Polo Championships; and Hampton Classic Horse Show. Long Island is eager to bring in more sports events and actively promotes its venues, accommodations and amenities to attract a wide range of sports tournaments. And it certainly is capable of catering to all kinds of athletic competitions thanks to its collection of sports facilities.
Top Long Island Sports Venues
Located in Eisenhower Park, the Nassau County Aquatic Center is one of the top aquatic centers in the country. It has hosted international and domestic swimming and diving events, including the Olympic trials in 2006.
James M. Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University
Shuart Stadium is home to the Hofstra field hockey and lacrosse teams. It seats 13,000 spectators and is the largest outdoor sports and entertainment complex on Long Island.
Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium at Stony Brook University
Opened in 2002, LaValle Stadium is home to the university’s football, soccer and lacrosse teams. The 8,200-seat stadium has also played host to many exciting regional and national sports events.
Baseball Heaven Sports Complex
The complex consists of nine baseball fields and features all the amenities of a professional ballpark.
Bethpage State Park
This park is known for its five world-class golf courses, as well as miles of hiking and biking trails, dozens of playing fields, tennis courts and cross-country skiing trails.
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum & Exhibition Center
This complex consists of an 18,000-seat arena, a 60,000-square-foot exhibition hall and 15,000 square feet of additional space. It can host a wide variety of sports tournaments, from basketball and volleyball to gymnastics and dance.
Top Long Island Attractions
“Long Island is a family friendly island, and depending on where your event is taking place, we have plenty of attractions,” says Rothman. Museum Row, located near Eisenhower Park, includes the Long Island Children’s Museum, the Cradle of Aviation, Nassau County Firefighters Museum and Education Center, and Long Island Museum for Science and Technology.
The Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead is ranked one of the top 10 in the country. In Suffolk County, visitors will find Adventureland, a small amusement park with more than 30 rides and attractions, while over in Calverton, they can enjoy 96 acres of water fun at Splish Splash Water Park, which features New York’s only water coaster.
Long Island also has lots of shopping options, from small boutiques to outlet malls. At the gateway to the east end is Tanger Outlet Center, Long Island’s largest factory outlet. Or visitors can shop the merchants at Tanger Outlets at The Arches in Deer Park. And as a top vacation destination, Long Island certainly has no shortage of top-rated restaurants, from quaint bistros to casual eateries to world-renowned institutions.
If you’re looking to plan a sports event in Long Island, the team at the Convention and Visitors Bureau and Sports Commission is happy to help. During the planning process, the team can help in securing the right venue and the necessary number of hotel rooms in properties located near the event space. They offer transportation to and from airports and around the area. The team also helps promote the tournament by putting it on the calendar of events, and advertising it on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. The Long Island CVB & Sports Commission will also help with volunteers and sponsorship, and will be on the scene during the sports event to help with anything that might come up.
Getting Here & Getting Around
Long Island is served by two major airports, John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, as well as Long Island Islip MacArthur Airport, which offers regularly scheduled flights from domestic cities. This allows sports teams from all over the country to easily reach it. The island is also accessible via major highways from New York City, making it easy to get to from most areas on the East Coast.
Once your team arrives in Long Island, the easiest way to get around is by car or rented van. However, the Long Island Railroad is also an option to transport teams and their fans from town to town, depending on where they need to go. The railroad is also an easy way to get to your final destination from the airports.
With its great facilities, affordable accommodations, convenient location and welcoming community, Long Island has everything to make your sports tournament a success. So maybe now when you hear Long Island, the picture will be a little bit different.
ContactLong Island CVB and Sports Commission Jennifer Rothman, Sales Manager 330 Motor Parkway, Suite 203
Hauppauge, NY 11788 Phone: 631-951-3900, ext. 320 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
−By Vanessa Day